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Economic Regulation: Recentralisation of Power or Improved Quality of Regulation?

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  • Gorecki, Paul K.

Abstract

The October 2009 Government Statement on Economic Regulation issued proposes a number of sensible reforms that are likely to improve regulatory performance in energy, airports, telecommunications, postal services and transport. However, the Government Statement also proposes to reduce the independence of regulators by holding them to account through a whole series of additional mechanisms, some of which are informal and lack transparency, while at the same time instructing regulators to take into account evolving/current ? possible transient ? priorities. There are good reasons for preserving and strengthening rather than undermining regulatory independence. For example, it facilitates investment in long-lived assets with a large element of sunk or irrecoverable investment, a common characteristic of network sectors. The Government Statement's unexplained move to reduce regulators' independence finds no support in either the government commissioned background report prepared by the Economic Intelligence Unit, Review of the Regulatory Environment in Ireland, or recent European Union legislation on energy and telecommunications regulation. Indeed, these sources are strongly in favour of regulatory independence. Two, not necessarily mutually exclusive explanations, for reducing regulatory independence are discussed: to remove an anomaly in the Irish political system; and, to assist in the delivery of social partnership. The paper concludes by arguing that some thought might be given to public consultation of the reforms in the Government Statement prior to further implementation.

Suggested Citation

  • Gorecki, Paul K., 2011. "Economic Regulation: Recentralisation of Power or Improved Quality of Regulation?," Papers WP373, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:esr:wpaper:wp373
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. FitzGerald, John & Keeney, Mary J. & McCarthy, Niamh & O'Malley, Eoin & Scott, Susan, 2005. "Aspects of Irish Energy Policy," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number PRS57.
    2. Niamh Hardiman, 2006. "Politics and Social Partnership - Flexible Network Governance," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 37(3), pages 343-374.
    3. Geoff Edwards & Leonard Waverman, 2006. "The Effects of Public Ownership and Regulatory Independence on Regulatory Outcomes," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 29(1), pages 23-67, January.
    4. Lyons, Sean & FitzGerald, John & McCarthy, Niamh & Malaguzzi Valeri, Laura & Tol, Richard S. J., 2007. "Preserving Electricity Market Efficiency While Closing Ireland's Capacity Gap," Quarterly Economic Commentary: Special Articles, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), vol. 2007(3-Autumn), pages 62-82.
    5. Gorecki, Paul K. & Lyons, Sean & Tol, Richard S.J., 2011. "Public policy towards the sale of state assets in troubled times: Lessons from the Irish experience," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 193-201.
    6. Massey, Patrick, 2007. "Delayed Indefinitely: Regulatory Reform of the Irish Bus Industry," Quarterly Economic Commentary: Special Articles, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), vol. 2007(1-Spring), pages 38-61.
    7. Bird, Richard, 2010. "Taxation and Decentralization," World Bank - Economic Premise, The World Bank, issue 38, pages 1-5, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gorecki, Paul K., 2011. "The Internal EU Electricity Market: Implications for Ireland," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number RS23.
    2. Gorecki, Paul K. & Lyons, Sean & Tol, Richard S.J., 2011. "Public policy towards the sale of state assets in troubled times: Lessons from the Irish experience," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 193-201.
    3. Gorecki, Paul, 2017. "The savings from the 2016-2020 Framework Agreement on the Supply and Pricing of Medicines in Ireland: which counterfactual?," MPRA Paper 79481, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Gorecki, Paul K., 2017. "Competition and vested interests in taxis in Ireland: A tale of two statutory instruments," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 228-237.
    5. Cahill, Catríona & Palcic, Dónal & Reeves, Eoin, 2017. "Commercialisation and airport performance: The case of Ireland's DAA," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 155-163.

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    European Union/investment/Ireland/postal services/regulation/transport;

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